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J Biol Chem. 2008 Jan 4;283(1):100-9. Epub 2007 Oct 30.

Coupling of mammalian target of rapamycin with phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling pathway regulates protein phosphatase 2A- and glycogen synthase kinase-3 -dependent phosphorylation of Tau.

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Center of Anatomy, Institute of Integrative Neuroanatomy, Department of Clinical Cell and Neurobiology, Charité, Charité-Platz 1, 10098 Berlin, Germany.


Tau is an important microtubule-stabilizing protein in neurons. In its hyperphosphorylated form, Tau protein loses its ability to bind to microtubules and then accumulates and is part of pathological lesions characterizing tauopathies, e.g. Alzheimer disease. Glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta), antagonized by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), regulates Tau phosphorylation at many sites. Diabetes mellitus is linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer disease. This could be partially caused by dysregulated GSK-3beta. In a long term experiment (-16 h) using primary murine neuron cultures, we interfered in the insulin/phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) (LY294002 treatment and insulin boost) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTor) (AICAR and rapamycin treatment) signaling pathways and examined consequent changes in the activities of PP2A, GSK-3beta, and Tau phosphorylation. We found that the coupling of PI3K with mTor signaling, in conjunction with a regulatory interaction between PP2A and GSK-3beta, changed activities of both enzymes always in the same direction. These balanced responses seem to ensure the steady Tau phosphorylation at GSK/PP2A-dependent sites observed over a long period of time (>/=6 h). This may help in preventing severe changes in Tau phosphorylation under conditions when neurons undergo transient fluctuations either in insulin or nutrient supply. On the other hand, the investigation of Tau protein at Ser-262 showed that interference in the insulin/PI3K and mTor signaling potentially influenced the Tau phosphorylation status at sites where only one of two enzymes (in this case PP2A) is involved in the regulation.

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